The Northcote High School community is saddened by the passing of Fiona Richardson.
Since 2006 Fiona had been the Member for Northcote and, in the current Government, the Minister for Women. She was also the first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence in Australia.
Fiona was a great supporter and advocate for women, equity and public education. Her commitment to education lives through a deep belief that communities are strengthened through their neighbourhood school. Northcote High School has been privileged to work with Fiona, developing a great partnership around shared values and making change. Fiona attended assemblies, graduations, politics and legal classes, leadership forums and launched the school's Master Plan with John Cain. She was to lead the schools 90th celebration last year, but poor health at that time made this impossible.
Each year at the Year 12 graduation Fiona presented the Catherine Helen Spence Award to a female student who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities – an attribute that is synonymous with Fiona.
Fiona’s capacity to consider the needs of students and staff, her openness to ideas and advocacy resulted in a long and positive relationship with our school and community. Her values and opinions lived through her actions – she held fast when supporting community initiatives and made them happen, including tram super stops, upgrades of bike paths and unblocking of the Merri roundabout.
She was instrumental to the success of many school projects supporting our Campus Master Plan and ensuring Northcote’s case for Stage 1 funding was considered and approved at Budget time. The Performance Hub, which will begin in October, is a legacy of her advocacy. She also supported the ‘new’ Campus Master Planning currently underway, which will provide for permanent facilities for 1650 students, the highest of any school in the state. If funded this will mean the school yard will be given back to students rather than relocatables.
Fiona championed the Leading Schools Funding for Northcote, resulting in the Year 9 Global Citizenship Centre and the upgrade of many reloctable buildings. She led the way for women and sport with the election commitment of the Inner City Netball project, which will be delivered at Northcote via two competition-level netball courts due for construction this year. Like the Performance Hub, they will be a school and community asset.
Northcote High School benefitted from Fiona’s generosity of time, thinking and action, and her commitment to understanding our needs, concerns and the complexities of our work. She worked hard and was deeply committed to eliminating gender inequality and family violence in order to better the experience of future generations of young people.
Next week there will be a Memorial Service for Fiona in Northcote at which I will be speaking on behalf of the Northcote school communities.
Our thoughts are with Fiona’s family and friends.
STATE MEMORIAL SERVICE - FIONA RICHARDSON
A memorial service will be held for those community members who wish to be there in person, or in spirit.
Regal Ballroom - 216 High Street, Northcote
10.30 am, Thursday 31 August 2017